first reactions to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Okay, I probably should be doing other things, but here are a couple of initial reactions to Deathly Hallows. I finished the book last night just after midnight. Three days “buried” in a book that has so much to do with death and resurrection (the figurative pointing to the literal)… Appropriate!

I read a couple of John Granger’s posts, including readers’ comments on Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #20: Disappointed?. Several people wrote about being disappointed that more of the story in the previous six books wasn’t resolved. I had to agree somewhat. Yes, I absolutely loved how the novel resolved the main storyline (the way Harry defeats Voldemort). Wow, that was even better than I imagined or could imagine. Deeply satisfying, wonderfully Christian, and amazingly creative. But… I also think I was expecting to find out all kinds of interesting things about the wizarding/witching world (or, should I rather say the non-muggle world so that I include non-human beings!).

But it’s not surprising that we would crave more information about the whole non-muggle world. That’s got to be one downside to Rowling’s being such a brilliant world-maker: the world is so rich that it becomes harder for readers to keep from being distracted from Harry’s story. And we’ve had several years to let our curiosities enlarge.

SNAPE. I wanted/expected Snape to be a good guy (protecting Harry, working for Dumbledore), but, wow, Rowling had me worried through a lot of the novel. She’s so good that, even when you believe you know what’ s going to happen (and even when you’re right), you still doubt, and she still makes you experience the story the way she wants you to. (I have to admit, though, that the story would probably have had even more gut-level affect on me had I had no expectations or speculations as to what would happen. Maybe that’s why Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire were so powerful for me – that was before I started speculating what would happen next.)

Let’s see, what else… I think I was wanting Snape’s true mission to be revealed to Harry by Snape DOING something (rather than by Harry simply experiencing Snape’s memories). I think I wanted Snape to sacrifice himself for Harry in some way. The way Rowling did it, though, does make Snape’s story more poignant. To the very end, Snape plays his part of doing whatever he could do protect Harry.

I think I wanted Snape to be more complicated, though, too. He doesn’t seem to have changed much. Remorse over Lily’s death made him want to protect Harry and leave Voldemort’s service, but he’s still the same jealous adolescent. Maybe I was hoping he would have a growth spurt in the 7th book, somehow. He’s mature in that love of Lily made him so self-less and courageous. But he’s still deeply adolescent in that his whole motivation for keeping his new life-mission secret is his jealous hatred of James Potter. Sure, by keeping his mission secret he was also able to help the fight against Voldemort, but that part of his mission seems to have been a side-benefit only.

I guess it feels hard to accept two characteristics in one soul: deep and abiding love for Lily Evans (which gives him the ability to live every single day of his life in danger without recognition from either side) AND childish hatred of James Potter (and by extension James’s son). So his ability to love is strong (how else could he put himself through so much for Lily’s son?) but it is also very weak (how else could he go so long without some forgiveness of James?).

The only way to see Snape’s “love,” then is that it’s very much a merely-romantic (but somehow ever-powerful) love. It’s not an agape love. But if so, I have a hard time accepting that he could do so much so selflessly for Harry for so long. I guess I don’t believe romantic love can be that strong (or long-lasting). Guess I’m not a romantic!

I’m not saying I don’t still like this character a lot (as a character). I just keep thinking I did expect Rowling to give us a little more about him.

But again, the seven-part story is not “Harry Potter and Snape” (though that’s the title of #6). It’s Harry Potter’s story. It’s love as the greatest power. It’s love stronger than death. But there it is again: it’s agape love, sacrificial love that’s stronger than death, stronger than fear — not romantic love. So maybe that’s one reason I wanted more from Snape: sacrificial love doesn’t seem to form within him. Romantic love rules him.

Oops, that’s all for now. Gotta do dinner.


3 thoughts on “first reactions to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

  1. I know, after a title & book like HBP, I was expecting more out of Snape in this one. In fact, I missed him! I too, wished he had more than just his death scene. However, I loved that Snape was willing to be forever doubted in order to protect Lily’s Harry.

    ***To the very end, Snape plays his part of doing whatever he could do protect Harry.*** You said it great!

  2. Thanks for the comment, ohamanda. And hey, I love the photo, on your website, of the little girl dressed up as an owl. Adorable. A great Harry Potter image. Makes me want to post a couple photos from the Midnight party I went to.

    And I like YOU said it well, too, when you said that “Snape was willing to be forever doubted in order to protect Lily’s Harry.”

    Reminds me: I loved the “Albus Severus” scene in the epilogue. I was weeping. Re-read that name three times before moving on to the next sentence. Powerful moment.

    Thanks again, ohamanda!

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